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England and Harlequins star Jack Clifford forced to retire at 27 due to injury as he thanks fans in emotional post

JACK CLIFFORD has been forced to retire from rugby aged just 27 after his battered body failed to recover from shoulder surgery.

Clifford was tipped for greatness back in 2016 by England boss Eddie Jones and the flanker won the Six Nations Grand Slam and the first ever Test series in Australia.

The Harlequins stalwart was capped ten times after captaining his country to a junior World Cup title in 2013 in a team alongside Lions stars Jack Nowell and Anthony Watson – as well as Henry Slade and Luke Cowan-Dickie.

After another shoulder reconstruction, Clifford posted on Instagram: “I am truly gutted to be writing this, but unfortunately I have been forced to retire from rugby – my last injury has not healed well enough for me to continue playing.

“Rugby is a game I love – I’ve had some amazing highs, made great memories and best friends. I’ve also had a few lows, and owe a lot to the people closest to me who helped me and kept me going.

“I love that I’ve only ever been at Quins, and it is my club. I really look forward to coming back to watch, and wish the team the best in the future.

“I also want to thank all the Quins staff and fans for sticking by me too, you’ve been brilliant support. Much love and thanks for everything.

“I am absolutely gutted to be have to call time on my career at a relatively early stage. I have been at Quins since I was 13 years old and made so many good friends here.

“It has been an absolute pleasure training and playing with the lads each week and I will miss this environment greatly.

“I feel proud to have reached 100 appearances for Quins and it is ironic that the injury was sustained in my 100th game.”

Quins boss Paul Gustard coached Clifford at England before becoming his club boss at The Stoop.

Gustard added: “It is with sadness that Jackman has been forced to retire from the game prematurely after another serious injury.

“I have been a huge fan of Jack from my days as an opposition coach and was delighted to be part of an England staff who awarded him his first of ten England caps.

“He was a player who had the ability to change a game with his explosive pace and offloading skills which, allied to his high work rate, meant he was an important player for us last season when he was a mainstay of the side who finished fifth.

“He is first and foremost a great human being and I have enjoyed watching him grow as a person and I continually applaud his courage and tenacity to fight back from each serious injury he endured.

“We had signed Jack on a long-term contract at the Club as we believed he was a key part of what we are building and so it is disappointing for everyone that we are unable to see his talents on the field once more.

It’s sad to hear the news about Jack’s retirement. He’s a good competitive player and a fine young man.

“It is no surprise he had started his career off as a centre! We of course wish him and his fiancé Karis all the best as we help him transition into the next stage of his life.

“No matter what he does, he was a champion on the field and from a man to a man you respect courage and there are very few people that have demonstrated that level of desire to play and find a way to come back and not only compete but excel.

“Jack – thank you for your efforts and congratulations on an incredible career.

I am truly gutted to be writing this, but unfortunately I have been forced to retire from rugby – my last injury has not healed well enough for me to continue playing. Rugby is a game I love – I’ve had some amazing highs, made great memories and best friends. I’ve also had a few lows, and owe a lot to the people closest to me who helped me and kept me going. I love that I’ve only ever been at Quins, and it is my Club. I really look forward to coming back to watch, and wish the team the best in the future. I also want to thank all the Quins staff and fans for sticking by me too, you’ve been brilliant support. Much love and thanks for everything.

A post shared by Jack Clifford (@jclifford93) on Aug 19, 2020 at 3:00am PDT

“To think he played over 100 games and ten games for England in an 8-year-career where he was effectively injured for four years shows how valued he was by anyone who coached him.

“He will always be remembered and will always be a Harlequin. Travel well, Cliff!”

Jones added: “It’s sad to hear the news about Jack’s retirement. He’s a good competitive player and a fine young man. We wish him all the best.”

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